20 Interesting And Fun Facts About California [Explained]

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California is one of the biggest and wealthiest states in the U.S. It also pulls the highest number of visitors yearly. With everything from national parks to big cities, there are many fun facts about California that make it a unique place.

The beautiful and prominent state has much to be discovered. From the state’s history to exemplary landmarks, here are some important facts about California to learn about.

Quick Facts And Statistics About California

  • Capital: Sacramento
  • Population: 38.95 Million (Most Populous State In The U.S)
  • Land Area: 163,696 sq mi / 423,970 km² (3rd Largest In The U.S)
  • Biggest City: Los Angeles
  • Nickname: The Golden State
  • Abbreviation: CA
  • Statehood: September 9, 1850 (31st U.S State)
  • State Bird: California Quail
  • State Flower: California Poppy

Historical Facts About California

California has a prosperous history dating back over 170 years. Here are some interesting facts about California state and its history.

The First European Trip To The West Coast Was Led by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo

This is one of the historic California state facts that most people don’t know about.

Cabrillo left Mexico and went to a place now called San Diego. He kept going up the coast to where Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and other cities are now. He later died on the way to Oregon, but his group eventually arrived there safely.

A National Monument in San Diego is one of the most well-known California landmarks. It was built to commemorate Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo and his crew.



California Once Had a Dog Mayor

The people of Sunol, California, in 1981, did something surprising by choosing a dog to be the town’s honorary mayor. The black Labrador, Bosco Ramos, was the town’s mayor until 1994.

Yea, we also have no idea what they were thinking. To this day, a statue of the Labrador still stands in front of the post office in Sunol. This is one of those amusing California facts that one might find funny.

During the California Gold Rush, More Than 300,000 People Came to the Sacramento Area

It is no surprise that there are many fascinating facts about the California Gold Rush. This is after all one of the most iconic periods in California history.

During the Gold Rush, people here found more than $2 billion worth of gold, even though digging for it wasn’t easy. When the period was over, the number of people living in the territory had tripled, and there were twice as many settlers as Native Americans.

Up to 200,000 People Came to California As Part Of The Largest Mass Migration In The U.S.

In the 1930s, the Dust Bowl forced a lot of people to leave the middle of the United States. By 1940, about 200 thousand of these people had moved to California. Native Californians were not welcoming to these people, and it was hard for them to get used to their new homes.

During The Civil War, California Was Split In Two

It was split up like the U.S. was, with the north and south on different sides. Northern California supported the Union and wanted slavery to end. People in the state’s south wished to break away from the U.S. If you are a fan of history, this is among the California state facts you should know. 

Fun Facts About California For Travelers


California Is Home To Nine National Parks

When we talk about significant California facts, very few come close to this one. California is home to nine of the U.S.’s 62 national parks, making it the state with the most national parks.

The National Park Service takes care of these protected areas, which keep each place’s wildlife and history safe. Yosemite National Park is the most popular park in California and the most popular park in the whole country.

This is definitely one state that any nature lovers should not miss. There are plenty of opportunities to indulge in some of the top natural wonders in the U.S.

On the same note, it perhaps comes as no surprise that California also have the most number of states parks in the country. Some of the prominent ones being Crystal Cove State Park, Mount Tamalpais State Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the likes.


The Hottest Place In The U.S. In California

For travelers, you should know this is one of the geographical facts about California. It should be no surprise that the weather in this desert region is highly harsh, given its name, “Death Valley.” Scientists say it is the hottest and driest place in the United States.

Death Valley is also where the world’s hottest air temperatures have been measured. In January 1913, the air temperature at Furnace Creek Ranch was said to have reached a scorching 134.1 °F (56.7 °C).

Death Valley holds its title for possessing the hottest air on Earth, despite claims that a sandstorm may have affected the data.


California Is Home To Silicon Valley, The World’s Technology Headquarters

The area is in San Jose and the surrounding area south of San Francisco Bay. Apple, Intel, Google, Netflix, Oracle, Meta, and most of the world’s largest tech companies, are based there. In the 1970s, the area got its name from the silicon chips used in many kinds of technology.

Many travelers visit California to check out landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Hollywood Sign. However, there are also countless tech entrepreneurs visiting with the intention of checking out the startup scene and the state-of-art complex of these tech behemoths.

The whole innovative and creative vibes is one of the interesting facts about San Francisco Bay Area.

Interesting Facts About California For Kids

Below are a few interesting facts about California to help kids learn more about the iconic state.


The Grizzly Bear is the Official California State Animal

Actually, there are no grizzly bears in the wild in California. Before now, bears used to be a big part of California wildlife, and there used to be more bears in the state than anywhere else in the U.S. But after the gold rush, they were all hunted down and killed. The last one died in 1922.


California is Home to the World’s Largest Living Tree

This is one of the impressive geographical facts about California. General Sherman, the world’s most gigantic living tree, lives in Sequoia National Park. It is a robust tree that stands about 275 feet tall and has a 102-foot diameter. No one knows for sure, but General Sherman is thought to be about 2,200 years old.

Millions of Bees Are Sent to California by Farmers to Pollinate Almonds

Almonds are the most important agricultural export from California. Up to 80% of the world’s almonds are grown in California, which has a booming farming industry. Millions of honey bees pollinate plants, which helps farmers get a lot of food.

Farmers send about 30 billion bees to California to pollinate the almond crops during the annual blooming season. The bees are then sent to other states to pollinate crops there. This should be one of the most interesting California facts for business lovers.


Disneyland Is Actually The World’s First Disney Park To Open

Now, this is certainly one of the fun facts about California for kids. Walt Disney oversaw the design and construction of Disneyland in Anaheim, which debuted on July 17, 1955.

Walt Disney was motivated to helped design the lone Disneyland park in Anaheim since fans and admirers wanted to visit the movie studios. Today, you will find some of the best rides at Disneyland. The theme park is one of the top attractions worldwide.

Fascinating Cultural Facts About California

Here are some interesting cultural facts about California that shed some light on the state’s history, culture, and people.


San Jose Was California’s First Capital

Although Sacramento is currently the state capital, San Jose was the state’s initial capital. However, the lawmakers were unhappy with their quarters in San Jose and planned to transfer to Vallejo.

However, their apartment was still under construction when they arrived in Vallejo. They moved to the present state capital, Sacramento, in 1854.


California Is Where The Internet Started

There are barely any facts about California that are as significant as this. The U.S. Department of Defense paid for the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) in the 1960s. With packet switching, ARPANET made it possible for many computers to connect and talk to each other over a single network.

This led to the Internet being one of the most essential things in modern times. When they first attempted to communicate over the Internet, a computer in a lab at UCLA was set to send a message to one at Stanford.

I guess there is a reason why the technology hub of Silicon Valley came to be where it is.

California Is Home To America’s Biggest Outdoor Amphitheater

The Hollywood Bowl is America’s most famous outdoor amphitheater. The Hollywood Bowl was opened in 1922 with merely a timber platform and a canvas cover.

Since then, there have been a lot of outstanding performances by a diverse range of brilliant musicians. The Bowl is now regarded as one of the country’s top 10 live music venues. The Hollywood Bowl is a fantastic theater, a beautiful public park, and a picnic spot.


California Is the State That Makes the Most Almonds In The U.S.

This is among the top fun facts about California for lovers of nuts. Many kinds of nuts are grown in California, like walnuts, pistachios, and pecans, but almonds are the most popular.

California grows eight out of every ten almonds that are eaten around the world. Walnuts are a close second. California produces 99% of commercial walnuts in the U.S. and 75% worldwide.


Both The Winter And Summer Olympics Have Been Held In California

In the United States, only California has hosted both games. Los Angeles was the site of the 1932 Summer Olympics. The city then hosted the event again in 1984.

Squaw Valley in California was the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Another exciting fact for California locals is that the 2028 Summer Olympics will once again be held in Los Angeles.

Other Fun Facts About California

The Popular Background Picture for Windows XP Was Taken in California

I bet this is one of the interesting California facts you never knew. If you’ve ever used a computer with the Windows XP operating system, you’ve probably seen the famous Windows XP wallpaper of a green hill and a blue sky.

This wallpaper, called “Bliss,” may be the most-viewed photo ever. The photo was taken in California, which is one of the interesting facts about the state.

People had a lot of ideas about where the picture was taken when it came out, and some even said it wasn’t a real place and was just digitally changed. But the photo was taken by photographer Charles O’Rear in Sonoma County, California, in January 1996.

O’Rear says that the picture wasn’t digitally modified, and he sold the rights to Microsoft for an undisclosed amount in 2000. The photo was taken during a visit to his girlfriend.

California Is Named After a Fictional Island in a Spanish Novel

Now, this is one of the famous California facts. The Spanish called the land from Alta California to Baja California “Las Californias,” which came from the name of a mythical island.

Las Sergas de Esplandián (The Adventures of Esplandián), a renowned Spanish romance book from the 1600s, says that the island is full of gold and pearls.

The book says that some people who lived on the islands were beautiful black women who wore gold armor and fought with Muslims.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Was Once the Governor of California

Arnold Schwarzenegger, a famous Austrian-American actor, was the 38th Governor of California from 2003 to 2011.

Since 1983, Schwarzenegger has been a naturalized U.S. citizen. He ran for office as a moderate Republican with liberal views on social issues and conservative views on money.

Discovering More Fun Facts About California

These are just some of the many interesting facts about California. California has a long history that dates back to ancient times. The economy is enormous and there are so many places to explore in the state.

The Golden State’s gross production is about $3 trillion, making it the world’s largest sub-national economy. Be sure to plan a trip yourself to learn more about the culture, geography, history, and other impressive California facts.



Book Your Flight

I usually use a combination of 2-3 of the following search engines to find cheap flights: Skyscanner, Momondo, Google Flights

Find Your Accommodation

Booking.com is my usual platform for finding accommodation options as they have one of the largest selections. Hostelworld is great for booking hostels. For more private or long term accommodation, Airbnb is my go-to platform.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is important for to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. I usually look at a few insurance companies depending on my travel needs.
  • SafetyWings for Travel Health Insurance
  • IMG Global for added Insurance when doing activities outside of usual coverage
Packing for your trip? Check out the packing list for ideas on what to bring

For more travel resources, check out my resources page for best platforms and companies to use when you travel.

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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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